I often tell my children and loved ones that they can do anything they put their mind to. As a woman and a mom, I lift others up—it is what I do—and I’d like to think I know how important it is to lift myself up, too. After a couple of bouts with cancer, two challenging C-sections and a few crashes on my bike, I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t interested in riding anymore. I was frustrated and done “lifting myself up.” I thought I could protect myself from pain and failure by staying home and graciously declining invitations to ride.
I had been through so much that not being strong and brave on the bike left me feeling vulnerable and scared. But that fear of failure went deeper than a superficial fear of a scraped knee or bruised ego. I was afraid of not being able to keep up with my family and friends—it turns out by avoiding riding, I wasn’t there for them at all.
So, I began to bike again. Instead of getting frustrated that my abilities weren’t up to par, I approached each ride with an attitude of grace toward myself. I started to ride again as a beginner would, enjoying the rush and not feeling upset when I had to say, “I don’t need to conquer this rock garden today, but one day I will.” Actually, I can ride as a way to teach myself that I am enough.
Since returning from Whistler and my experience learning from Ladies AllRide, I have gone mountain biking in the rain and mud with my girlfriends, my family and even a few strangers. I have laughed at myself more than I ever thought I could. I find a relaxed sense of accomplishment after a ride, not because I was the fastest or set a personal record, but because I am just happy I got out there and did it. Actually I can ride for the sheer joy of being in nature and laughing.
Returning to my bike this year, I have wanted to cry because I was scared and wanted to quit because it was hard. But, I have persevered in a more patient way that allows me to feel joy for my accomplishment instead of frustration. If I can defeat my fear of getting back in the saddle, then what else am I capable of? I can dust myself off, I can come back after having children, I can rebuild my life after cancer, I can find joy in my career again and I can be there for my family. Actually, I can overcome.
-Kendra Wilks, mother, wife, physical therapist, cancer survivor and cyclist.